by Sukanya GargAug 21, 2019
The solo exhibition Ana Mendieta: Earthbound shows, for the first time in Belgium, a wider selection of works by the Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta (1948–1985). Forty-three years after she performed at the ICC (Internationaal Cultureel Centrum) on April 24, 1976, Antwerp welcomed her art again. Her sculptural film works and photographs position themselves effortlessly in today’s international canon of contemporary art and are being shown for the first time ever in the context of an outdoor sculpture park, at the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp. This project will act as an enlightening introduction to Mendieta’s oeuvre in Belgium.
Earthbound showcases a selection of 14 works featuring Mendieta’s interest in the four elements - air, water, fire and earth. In the context of the sculpture collection of the Middelheim Museum, where both the artist and the visitor are always subjected to the elements, Mendieta’s artistic ideas resonate strongly with the recent developments in sculpture, installation and performance art. The project opens up perspectives on how we relate as human beings to our surrounding environment. Through a direct bodily connection with nature, Mendieta’s works seek both a means of individual self-representation and a connection to universal ancestral power.
The exhibition offers a plurality of voices in the museum, where Mendieta’s works are being shown alongside those of present-day artists. Mendieta’s work not only persistently tests the definition of contemporary sculpture but is also inspiring for the contemporary challenges of today’s society. The framework of Bruno Latour's recent publication Facing Gaia might offer an interesting perspective for exploring the exhibited works of Mendieta. By acknowledging that nature and its elements all have agency, the artist was able to think beyond the boundaries of religion, history and identity. Similar strategies are suggested 30 years later by Bruno Latour in his proposal for realising a new climatic regime and for changing our relationship with the earth.
It is absolutely clear that Mendieta's artistic vision not only raises fundamental questions about normative social systems, but that it also represents a shift in perspective on recent sculpture traditions, from a vision determined by object oriented-sculpture, to one connected with land art and performance.
The exhibition is curated by Pieter Boons and is a collaboration with the Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection & Galerie Lelong & Co. It is on display till September 22, 2019.